If you decide to adopt a child, you are entitled to adoption rights and benefits which are very similar to those claiming maternity and paternity benefits.
Leave: If you are a qualifying employee, you are entitled to 52 weeks of Statutory Adoption Leave (“SAL”), made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave (“OAL”) and 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave (“AAL”).
Pay: Statutory Adoption Pay (“SAP”) is available for qualifying employees for a 39 week period at a weekly rate of £140.98 (from April 2017) or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
SAL and SAP are only available to parents who adopt a child through an adoption agency which is either a local authority or an approved adoption society. There is no right to SAL or SAP for:
- Private adoption
- Step-parents who adopt their step-children
- Foster parents who adopt their foster children by means of a court order
- Parents who become parents through arrangement with a surrogate mother
Adoption can be undertaken by anyone and so where two people adopt as a couple, one can elect who will be the “adopter” for the purposes of taking SAL and receiving SAP. If the adopter is female, the adopter’s partner may then be entitled to paternity leave. Please refer to our page on Paternity Rights.
Adopters have the right to return to the same job, protection from dismissal or detriment relating to adoption leave and priority to be offered suitable employment in a redundancy situation. An adopter will not be entitled to receive his/her normal salary or sick pay during SAL.
The main differences between adoption leave and pay and maternity leave and pay are as follows:
- There is a qualifying period of 26 weeks of continuous employment prior to the adoption for SAL and SAP
- The trigger points for eligibility for SAL and SAP do not relate to the expected week of childbirth as they do for SMP and SMP but to the various stages of adoption.
- There is no protection for an adopter as there is for pregnant women or women who have just given birth
Just as an expectant mother or father has to give notice to their employer, so must the adopter, once he/she has notified the adoption agency of its agreement that the chid should be placed with them. An adopter must give written notice of his/her intention to take SAL no more than 7 days after the date on which he/she is told that he/she has been matched with a child. The notice must set out:
- The date on which the child is expected to be placed with the adopter; and
- The date on which the adopter wishes to begin his/her OAL
If your employer asks for evidence then the following are valid:
- Name and address of the agency
- Date on which the employee was notified he/she had been matched with a child; and
- Date on which the agency expects to place a child with the employee
A “matching certificate” can be completed by the adoption agency and will provide all the information an employer is entitled to request. A matching certificate is not available where a child is adopted from overseas.